Written on the Waves: The You Play – small acts

This audio drama is part of 45North’s Written on the Waves series, and the first of the two You Plays.

A show best experienced through headphones, small acts allows you to join Katherine Parkinson as she becomes your guide. In this aural adventure you are the main character, following a path where you connect with the outdoors and with yourself.

As you respond to instructions and react to what you hear, a narrative unfolds which is based – very loosely – on Shakespeare’s classic play The Winter’s Tale. What matters the most, though, is your unique, individual response to what you hear within small acts and what you choose to do in response to it.

Written by Rafaella Marcus, directed by Jessica Lazar, with sound design by Dinah Mullen, small acts works on suggestion rather than story, and I found myself finding Patkinson’s soothing tones causing me to doze at times: in a good way! This piece has a lot of similarities to mindfulness exercises, encouraging you to listen, taste, watch, smell and touch the world around you.

Promotional image for The You Play: small acts

As well as there being a ‘you’ at the heart of proceedings, there is also a rather sinister ‘them’ played variously by a six-strong cast (Rebecca Banatvala, Jonathan Case, Amber James, Daisy Lewis, Ken Nwosu, Boadicea Ricketts).The ‘you’ you become is isolated, unkempt, bored, listless. It is time to reconnect, to open yourself up to the sounds outside of the window, and within your own space.

Whether you interpret this as a reflection on The Winter’s Tale and the fate of Leontes and his choices, or simply as a comment on our own disconnection with the world and the people in it through the pandemic, and our curiosity in snatches of outside conversation, it still works as a piece of drama.

You can listen to small acts and the other audio plays in the Written on the Waves series here (free to listen).